Lindsey Troy Speaks On A Decade of Raw Rock Power and Deap Vally’s Live For The Last Time Tour BC EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Deap Vally's Lindsey Troy
LOS ANGELES, CA- Some of the most potent pairings in rock and roll history have been those that came in three: Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, ZZ Top, Rush and Nirvana, to name a few. The early Aughts would see the rise of the “power duo,” with bands like the White Stripes, the Black Keys, and later Royal Blood rattling stadiums all over the world with an anything but minimalist sound.
But in a field largely dominated by dudes, a chance meeting at a knitting shop in LA would prove to be kismet for the two women who would form Deap Vally — the garage blues, Black Sabbath-with-a-studded-belt power duo of Lindsey Troy (guitar/vox) and Julie Edwards (drums/vox). With fuzzy psychedelic riffs, thunderous drum swagger, vocals that nod to Karen O and Geddy Lee and incisive lyrics covering everything from human empowerment to the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, they quickly carved their own space in the rock landscape.
In 2013, they released their debut record, Sistrionix. From the opening chug of “End of the World” to the rallying chants in “Baby I Call Hell” and the bluesy, dripping wail of closer “Six Feet Under,” Sistrionix took listeners on a serpentine voyage back to the days of the albums that influenced it.
Supporting Sistrionix would find Troy and Edwards touring relentlessly across the world, making a name for themselves in the psych/garage rock scene, and working with artists like the Flaming Lips and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
But after a decade of touring and two more albums, Deap Vally finds themselves at a crossroads. With young kids, families, and the current state of the industry making touring more difficult for artists, Edwards and Troy have decided that it’s time to focus on other pursuits — but not before what Troy called a “super epic” farewell tour.
In addition to their final bow on the road, they’ve also chosen to re-record their debut album, out in February on their own Deap Vally Records (the updated “Baby I Call Hell” is out now), with new sonics but the same grit. We caught up with Lindsey Troy and discussed some of her favorite moments from the last decade, the ubiquity of Travelodges in any band’s early tour stories, and what to expect from the new release of their first record.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
BLURRED CULTURE: Ten years on from Sistrionix, this is Deap Vally’s swan song. Your lives have changed over the last decade. What made you decide now is the time?
LINDSEY TROY: We each have two kids and it’s just too hard at the moment for us to keep touring, because we don’t really want to leave our families for a long time. So that means we have to bring them along and then it’s really expensive, everything that entails. It’s just [tough] logistically.
Originally, Julie said I could keep the project going without her, but I didn’t really want to do that. So we just decided to make it a big thing, do this big farewell tour, make it super epic, and celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Sistrionix coming out. And then [we could] put out this Sistrionix 2.0 recording, which has been a lot of fun to make, and to own our masters and release all these unreleased b-sides and demos. It’s been a lot, but if this is going to be our farewell tour, just really make it count.
But we’re still going to be open to doing some recordings in the studio because that’s kind of where I want to shift my energy. I love being in the studio and I get to be at home and do that. So we’re not closing the window on opportunities.
Apart from the excitement and the spark of a first record and a first tour, what’s a memory that you really will carry from those early days?
I think of our “End of the World” music video, which really encapsulates that early period. That music video was a compilation of footage from our first headlining tour in Europe and in the UK, and our friends came along and shot it. It was so fun. We had some really crazy moments in that video where we were staying at a Travelodge — we’ve stayed in a lot of Travelodges — we have this clip where Julie and I are in the bathtub together and just drinking wine and Jack Daniels, and it’s pouring in the bath and the bathwater is brown from all the alcohol, and it overflowed and flooded the whole bathroom. There’s wet toilet paper everywhere. I mean, luckily we were fucked up, obviously. Otherwise, it would just be like, “What is this?” Marcus Haney, our friend, and our other friend, Ashley Walters, were on that tour documenting it. Marcus Haney got some really epic photos of us in the bath.
Any standout tour memories?
We have a lot of great memories playing in Brighton, England. And, also, it’s such a funny pairing, but we did this really amazing tour with Mumford & Sons. At first we we’re like, I don’t know — are their fans going to like us? We’re a lot heavier. We’re not sure they’re going to like this type of music. We were kind of nervous. But it ended up being one of the most fun tours we ever did because they were the nicest guys, and they would all come on stage with us on a different song every night to jam with us. That made the fans really warm up to us.
We called it The Beautiful Cities Tour because we played in the most gorgeous, romantic cities all throughout Europe. And Julie and I love the challenge of being openers; it’s so fun. You get this short, snappy set and you get to win over the crowd.
Why did you choose to re-record Sistrionix instead of a re-release?
It was to get our masters back. So that record is out of print on vinyl; you can’t find it anymore. Our fans have been asking about it for years. So we were talking to our old record label and [Julie] was trying to get our masters back because they’re [with the record label] in perpetuity … so we’ll never get them back.
Then it’s either we license our own record from them to reprint it, which is going to cost money. It’s kind of annoying anyway, so we [said we] may as well just re-record it. Originally we were going to just re-record the favorites, like the singles, but then we were like, screw it. Let’s just do the whole thing.
Right, you probably didn’t want to do a direct facsimile of the other record. So going into it, did you get a chance to explore new tones? Did you get a chance to bring that decade of experience into it?
Yeah, we approached it like, OK, it’s going to be more like our live [sound]. After we recorded our first record and we were touring a lot, my voice was getting really worn out because of the way I sing. And so I started tuning down my guitar to E flat, and that’s how we’ve done those songs for years. I always play in E flat now because it’s a little easier on my voice, so we just [did] it like we do it live.
So that has a different feel to it. It’s a bit darker and deeper, being in a different key. And then I also added bass on a lot of the songs, and it’s really cool. The song that comes to mind is “Raw Material.” We always loved that song and felt like it was very Black Sabbath-y. But then when you hear it with bass, it’s like, holy crap, it’s so heavy and so cool. And I’m like, damn! It just adds this whole extra layer of dimension that’s really cool. We’re really proud of it.
You’ve said that you and Julie have this uncanny creative relationship, which is a rare and special thing. When did you realize that that connection first existed?
Right away. [We met in a] knitting shop, but it was a crochet lesson, and we talked a lot in that lesson and opened up to each other. We really hit it off and made an impression on each other. She wasn’t the stereotypical thing of some of the people I’d met — it’s like they all talk about themselves. She was a really good listener and really interesting and really smart.
It was just meant to be because I was, at that moment, feeling committed to doing art, and so I was very open to finding a collaborator. And I think she was in a pivotal moment, as well. Our personalities complement each other really well because in some ways we’re very similar, but then so different in other ways. She’s doing all the tour managing and all that stuff. She’s really good at all that — she’s super organized. She loves to be really busy and be her own boss, whereas that’s not as much my personality. So it just works.
One song we’ve always wanted to ask about that we never saw coming is a song about JonBenet Ramsey, “Little Baby Beauty Queen.” How does that song come into your mind? It’s dark but, musically speaking, it also seems really fun to play live.
That song is so fun to play live, so much fun. Well, we would listen to a lot of true-crime podcasts in the tour van. We were always talking about that kind of stuff, and we had been talking about her a lot, and different theories we had about it. So it was just top of mind when we were writing. It is such a horrible, devastating, sad case. It’s just an awful thing. And it’s crazy that it’s still unsolved after all these years. So I feel like that’s why people are so intrigued by it, too, because people just want to know what the hell happened.
But also, sometimes you just write songs from another point of view. It’s an interesting thing to do because it takes you out of yourself a little bit. It’s a nice creative experiment. I don’t always just have to write from my own point of view. After a while, that gets a little bit boring.
You’ve worked alongside incredible artists like the Flaming Lips, Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more. What’s something that sticks out in your mind that you took from those collaborations and will carry into your next chapters?
We love collaborating. I have made some solo stuff, and I think I will put out a solo record after this band breaks up. But my heart is in collaborating. It’s funny because I grew up in a band, playing music with my sister. I think that’s why I really felt comfortable being in a two-piece with another woman. And then Julie’s [earlier] band was with her childhood best friend. Her and I both love that energy of being in a two-piece collaboration, but also getting to do all the collaborations.
It was just a much-needed change for us because we had just spent so much time on the road together. Sometimes it was a little bit like, ugh, we need some different energy to shake things up. So we did this collaboration series. In every one we did, we would learn something different.
We stayed with [Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips] at his house for a week when we were recording, and that was a real treat. At night, we’d watch movies with him and his wife, and I was just in their living room. It was so fun. Actually, I think we actually had an Easter with Wayne’s family. One thing I learned from The Flaming Lips is how they really treat their band and their work ethic like a full-time job. I feel like they would go in the studio from 9 to 5 or something similar every day during the week. That was something that was really cool that I learned. Because Julie and I have never really been like that, where we’d go work from 9 to 5 every day of the week as a band. I was like, wow. That makes sense why they’re so prolific.
We did a song with Soko. She’s a really talented French artist, and she played an old synth on that song; I think it was an old Juno synth. That was something we’d never done before, that added so much vibe and it sonically opened it up so much. I learned about synths from working with Soko.
You mentioned having some solo material you’d like to release. On that note, what’s next for you both? Still going to be on that psychic safari?
Yeah. I’ve really focused my energy on being a mom, obviously, right now. And I love it. I love it so much. But yeah, I want to continue to make music and be creative because it feels like the only thing I’m good at, honestly. I’ve been doing music my whole life. I had my first record deal when I was like 12. I guess I could always go to school and do something else, but I love making music. And it’s a fun challenge for me to do solo stuff because it’s like, what does that look like? What does that sound like? It’s not going to sound exactly like Deap Vally.
My dream right now is to be a studio rat, just record and have songs in movies and TV and stuff. That’s where I want to put my focus right now because, after this farewell tour, I don’t want to really focus on playing live as much. And Julie, her kids are a little bit older than mine, so she was thinking about going back to school to become some sort of forensic criminologist.
Putting all that true-crime knowledge to good use! Now that you’re stepping off-stage, are there any artists flying under the radar that you would recommend?
Well, I will say, my fiance’s project, but it’s electronic. It’s more [like] Daft Punk. It’s called John Nasty. It’s not out yet. He’s only done live shows. He did a show opening for Panther Modern from Sextile. But his is really awesome. Sextile is a great band. Some of the bands that we’re touring with, like Spoon Benders, Death Valley Girls. The Velveteers are cool. L.A. Witch. And I’ll throw in my brother’s band Safety Orange, even though they’re a completely different type of music than me — they’re like a kind of surfy reggae band. And then my sister also, Anna Troy, she’s a blues singer and she’s really cool, as well.
Deap Vally’s farewell tour kicks off Nov. 10 in San Diego, with US shows running through March.